They're at every sci-fi convention and Halloween party -- those people who always have the most amazing, original costumes. Learn the basics of building a costume and find out what it takes to do well in costume competitions.
Dragon*Con, a popular arts convention in Atlanta, Ga., is a great place to see some amazing costumes. Some attendees spend almost every minute of the four-day convention in costumes instead of "regular clothes." But how do people make these amazing costumes? What does it take to make a costume that looks authentic but doesn't break the bank? Here, Elizabeth Cameron poses as Sir Didymus in "Labyrinth."
When it comes to reproductions from TV shows or movies, accuracy and details are key. Mike Johnson watched "Ghostbusters" and took notes when creating his Ghostbuster costume.
“I freeze-framed the movie," he says, “and got points of reference in the film, and [I] measured so I [would] know how long the lenses stuck out." He wanted to get the pack, trap and goggles as accurate as possible.
“Firefly" fan Squirrel models a hat based on an episode in the series. Fans have extensively researched all the details of the hat's pattern and yarn.
A great costume requires more than just fabric. Accessories and trim can turn a good design into a great one. Take Joe Ranger as Maximus from “Gladiator" for example. Let's look at some more uses of accessories and trim.
The decorations on the breastplate are bookends and an iron trivet, and the costume required an entire cow's worth of leather.
Continuing in the theme of found items as costume parts: Estea and Elaina Sanchez as Siamese from David Mack’s comic book series "Kabuki."
Their arms are made from broken toys from the Salvation Army.
A closer look at the arm of the Siamese costume.
But fabric is just one costume material. Rory Gentry’s TIE fighter pilot costume includes project boxes from Radio Shack, PVC pipe, plumbing connectors, hoses and carved wood.
They're at every sci-fi convention and Halloween party -- those people who always have the most amazing, original costumes. Learn the basics of building a costume.
A closer look at the detailed control panel made for the pilot costume.
Lots of movie costumes require armor, jewelry and weapons that can be expensive to buy or difficult to make authentically, leading costumers to improvise with found items and crafty tricks.
This Jango Fett costume doesn't include any actual metal. The metallic sheen comes from silver Rub 'n Buff.
This space marine from Warhammer 40K is made from foam cut on a CNC machine and coated with plastic.
Although this space marine costume is made from foam, it is still hot and heavy. This person can’t sit down in this get-up.
This Aragorn costume, researched at "Lord of the Rings" costume research site Alley Cat Scratch, includes an Elven brooch.
The brooch was made from Sculpey and wire instead of silver and enamel.
While found items and improvisations are essential to costuming on a budget, authenticity has its own place. With 84 yards of real human hair, Steven Borhand could pass as the actual Chewbacca.
Stacy's Aragorn costume features approximately 60 pounds of handmade chain mail. Stacy purchased wire from Home Depot and made a crank that allowed him to twist the wire into rings.
He cut the rings apart manually and then made a shirt and leg armor from them.
Wade Finch drafted his own pattern to make the perfect Captain Jack Sparrow coat. All of the commercial patterns had the seams in the wrong place.
Duine Jefferson and Theresa Kelley as Mrs. Brisby and Nicodemus from "The Secret of NIMH." The masks are foam covered in fur with eyes made from sunglass lenses. Go to the next image to see this creative duo in another realistic costume.
The same women as badgers from “The Wind in the Willows." Now we'll look at some other favorites from Dragon*Con 2005.
Joe Sanchez is Boba Fett in a vacuum-formed costume with a fiberglass pack.
He hand-painted the pieces to make them look authentically distressed.
Joe Sanchez put a lot of effort into the smallest details. A closer look at the Boba Fett Helmet.
Small details make this superhero trio stand out from the crowd.
This Green Lantern costume includes a handmade ring with a battery-powered light.
Richard Catharris as Tim the Enchanter from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail." He dyed and washed 12 yards of fabric, including pieces cut into long strips, to get the best tattered effect.
This Anakin Skywalker costume includes an Italian leather vest over a crinkled cotton tunic and custom-made gloves.
Glove details include a serpentine belt from a car and custom-made metal buckles.
The Island of Misfit Toys-King Moonracer, the Elephant with Pink Spots, Charlie-in-the-Box, Dolly and the Cowboy who Rides an Ostrich.
King Moonracer was made from foam that is both sewn and glued together and then covered with fleece.
All of the costumes have removable heads. Some also have removable hands and arms.
Trisha Clayton as Charlie-in-the-Box. Charlie has a real wooden box. His hands are detachable, and his head is made of a batting helmet covered in foam and fleece. A layer of pantyhose over the fleece allows spray rubber to adhere to it.
Heidi Pritchett is Dolly. Dolly has hands shaped like mittens and hair made from yarn.
Details can make a costume more accurate and more real. Learn about adding those final touches.
Details on their costumes included elf shoes with curled toes.
Some costumes, like this character from “Sin City, “aren’t complete without makeup. This effect was achieved by using rigid collodion for scars and putty wax for building up the chin and nose.
And, when all else fails, just go for what's available. Andrew Duncan and Todd Sayre are cardboard robots. Winners: Judges’ Favorite, Hall Costume Contest, Dragon*Con 2005.